London Calling, May 2013

London Calling

by Craig Pinhey

(unedited version of my column published May 17 in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal)

Yesterday and today, at Canada House in Trafalgar Square, London, England, some of the world’s most influential wine critics and Sommeliers are experiencing some of Canada’s best wines, from BC, Ontario and Nova Scotia, in an event entitled ‚ÄúREDISCOVER Canadian Wines.” The media and trade tasting event is a result of a partnership between Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and the Canadian High Commission in London, England.

This is exciting news for Canadian wine. You might argue that we as an industry should first open borders between our own provinces for wine, beer and spirits sales before we worry too much about exporting our best wines to Europe, the USA, or elsewhere, but there is a bigger picture to consider.

The acceptance of our wines – our best wines, yes, but also our everyday wines – is important to our producers. It gives confidence, and encourages investment in further grape planting. Canada is a premium wine producer, and there seem to be more expensive wines on the market every year, yet we Canadians are not making more money, so it may be that export of these will become very important. Canadians can only afford so many over $20 wines. Also, it is good to put out feelers now and create excitement. 2010’s similar Seriously Cool Chardonnay event received great response from the international media in London, and this week’s event should do the same.

Someday, and it is possibly not that far off, Canadian consumers will truly take to our own wines to the extent that people do in other wine countries for their wines, and when this happens we will certainly drink every drop that we can produce, but at the moment export is attractive. This certainly applies to wines like Benjamin Bridge Brut, from Nova Scotia, super premium bubbly that is already competing with top Champagne in terms of taste, but they will need to do this in world markets too, as their production gradually ramps up. It seems counterintuitive, but it may make more sense to sell it to Europeans and Asians instead of provinces west.

The wines for this week’s tasting were selected by a small group of wine journalists several weeks ago. I had the pleasure of representing Atlantic Canada. The Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) at Brock University in Ontario hosted the tasting. We blind tasted over 250 submitted wines, narrowing them down to 89 wines. In addition we nominated sparkling wines for submission, so there will be 20 bubblies at the London event, including from three Nova Scotia producers: Benjamin Bridge, Blomidon Estates, and L’Acadie Vineyards. I’m sure they agree that it is a true honour representing our country.

Grape varieties to be showcased as table wines include Pinot Noir, Bordeaux blends or varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot), Syrah, Gamay Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling.

Although few of these top wines ever make it to the ANBL, we do have wines from several of the producers who are represented in London. For this week I have selected two Wines of the Week, one somewhat premium and another that is under $20.

Wines of the Week
2011 Malivoire Gamay Noir, Ontario $24.99
Malivoire is represented at the London tasting with a Gamay and a single vineyard Chardonnay. We recently received a very small lot of 4 cases at the ABL, and they are all at the Dieppe store. The Gamay is completely unlike the Beaujolais wines people are used to in New Brunswick. It does have the berry fruit, and it is fairly light in body and colour, but it very dry and has good structure from acidity. It is great with charcuterie and cheese.

Pelee Island Reserve Pinot Noir, Ontario, $17.29
Pelee Island has several of their premium wines at the Canada House event. Here at the ANBL we have a fair number of their value offerings, but my favourite is their Reserve Pinot Noir. This is heavier than the average Ontario Pinot Noir, with more oak presence, but it still has the expected cherry notes from Pinot, and decent acidity. Drink with roast chicken or grilled lamb.

Other news and events:
2013 Canadian Brewing Awards
The 2013 Canadian Brewing Awards gala last week announced several medals for our New Brunswick breweries, including four for Moosehead, three for Pump House and 1 for Acadie Broue. Congratulations, all! They also announced the terrific news that next year’s Gala Awards Dinner will be held in Fredericton. Find out more at www.CanadianBrewingAwards.com.

May 24 – June 1: FestiVin De Cariquet
This annual festival is filled with exciting food and wine pairing and wine tasting events. You can find all the relevant information at www.FestiVin.ca. Follow along as I report from FestiVin on my Twitter feed @frogspadca and post photos at www.facebook.com/Craig.Pinhey.FrogsPad. The special guest this year is the Top Sommelier of the Americas and 2nd best in the world for 2013, Canada’s own Veronique Rivest!

June 1: Spain and Portugal Wine Dinner
Join me at The Shadow Lawn Inn in Rothesay for this special wine and food pairing. The details are up here: www.shadowlawninn.com/premium-iberian-wine-pairing-menu.html

Cheers!
Craig

Craig Pinhey is a Sommelier and writer. “Like” his Facebook site at www.facebook.com/Craig.Pinhey.FrogsPad or follow him on Twitter as @frogspadca

Atlantic Terroir Proves Suitable for Aromatic White Wines

Good Drink, May 3, 2013, The New Brunswick Telegraph Journal
Atlantic Terroir Proves Suitable for Aromatic White Wines
by Craig Pinhey

Many New Brunswickers already know about the Tidal Bay wines from Nova Scotia, even though we haven’t been able to buy them at the ANBL…yet! That is changing right now, as Jost’s 2012 Tidal Bay hits the shelves this month.

Tidal Bay is an appellation that was created for low alcohol, off-dry, aromatic white blends grown in Nova Scotia. They have a lot in common with the Vinho Verde wines of Portugal, both being light, fresh blends that include aromatic grapes, although Tidal Bay wines are not fizzy, and tend to be more premium, typically around $20.

The wines are very fresh and fruity, and always have a floral component arising from the use of extremely aromatic grapes like muscat. The appellation rules stipulate a maximum for these aromatic grappes, in order to avoid a wine that is too over the top and one-dimensional. Although the creators of Tidal Bay – a wine industry group – wanted pretty wines, they also wanted wines with good acidity and balance. To that end, there is also a maximum residual sugar level, or to be more specific, a maximum that is tied to the acidity level in order to retain balance.

The wines must pass a taste panel each year to be accepted, to label them Tidal Bay. I am honoured to be on the taste panel.

Tidal Bay are not the only Atlantic aromatic wines that are currently receiving attention. Nova Scotia is abuzz with the release of the 2012 Benjamin Bridge Nova 7, an aromatic, fizzy and quite sweet, pink wine that is closer to Piedmont’s Asti then Vinho Verde or Tidal Bay, and sells for around $25. Not only does it sell well in its home province, they’ve also released the wine in Ontario the last couple of years to good reviews. I recently tried the 2012, and it is a delicious little wine, with pretty pink rose aromas and pink grapefruit flavours. It is lightly fizzy, under screwcap, and has a lot of acidity to balance out the ample grape sugars. It is only 7% alcohol. You can order Nova 7 or other Benjamin Bridge wines for shipment out of province. Go to their website for contact details. www.benjaminbridge.com.

Other Nova Scotia wineries make Tidal Bay wines as well as other aromatic blends, and single varietal wines from Muscat or Ortega and even Acadie Blanc can be very floral. The terroir is well suited to making fruity white wines with good acidity, and when you use the right grapes, you get attractive aromas that people clearly like.

Here in New Brunswick our wineries can’t make the Tidal Bay wines, as for now it is only a Nova Scotian appellation, but that does stop them from making similarly styled wines. I have had several very pretty, fruity whites from Richibucto River Estates, Motts Landing, Gillis Of Belleisle, and Dunham’s Run. Check them out this spring!

Cheers!

Wine of the Week
2012 Jost Tidal Bay $19.99.
The 2012 Jost is an excellent example of just what the Tidal Bay wines are meant to be. It has a lovely nose that is both fruity and floral, and the balance on the palate is just right. It is crisp, off-dry but not cloying. I’m so glad to see it here, and I hope other Tidal Bay wines from more wineries will follow.